Neguse pushes to complete Continental Divide Trail |

Neguse pushes to complete Continental Divide Trail

Sky-Hi News staff report

Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse has unveiled legislation that would direct public land managers to finish the 3,100-mile Continental Divide Trail.

The Continental Divide Trail Completion Act would direct the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to work together to finish the trail by its 50th anniversary.

More than 40 years after its creation, the Continental Divide Trail remains incomplete due to gaps in public lands along more than 160 miles of its route. In those areas, the trail is forced to follow along roads to connect one completed section to another.

“Completing the CDT would fulfill a promise that Congress made more than four decades ago to provide the American people with world-class recreational opportunities spanning the length of the Continental Divide,” Neguse said in a release. “By expediting completion of the trail and closing existing gaps, we ensure more people can enjoy these beautiful landscapes and we invest in Colorado’s outdoor recreation economy and the mountain towns and businesses that rely on visitors for their livelihoods.”

The trail runs through Grand County, with trailheads on either side of Grand Lake and the route passing along Grand Avenue, the town’s main street. Grand Lake’s town board has signed a letter endorsing the act.

“Completing the Continental Divide Trail will benefit the community of Grand Lake and the thousands of visitors that flock to the town for its natural environment and recreational resources,” Grand Lake Mayor Steve Kudron said.

Congress created the CDT in 1978 as part of the National Trails System, a network that spans all 50 states. The CDT is the highest, most challenging and most remote of 11 National Scenic Trails, running along the Continental Divide through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico.

The trail’s corridor helps protect the headwaters of the Colorado, Rio Grande, Columbia, and Mississippi Rivers. When the trail is complete, it will connect an unbroken corridor of more than two million acres.

The proposed legislation would direct the Forest Service, the federal agency that administers the trail, to prioritize completion before the trail’s 50th anniversary in 2028. To do so, the Forest Service will work alongside the Bureau of Land Management to acquire lands from willing sellers using authorities such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

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